Betsy Rogers, named Teacher of the Year in 2003, writes in her Education Week blog about her decision to teach at a low-performing school in Alabama, where expectations are low.
I was struck by the post on a kindergarten classroom infested by snakes, which Rogers discovered two years ago when visiting the school. It turned out snakes had been a problem for years; nobody had felt compelled to take action. Rogers and another visiting teacher got the custodian, who had a snake catcher as a tool, to clear the room; 16 non-poisonous snakes were caught.
Someone said to me “ I guess it took the Teacher of the Year to do something about the snakes.” This annoyed me because this should have been taken care of two years earlier for the sake of the children not because I was there. District maintenance workers came that day and repaired the hole in the wall where the snakes were entering the room. An exterminator was called to come set off a snake balm and children were moved to the music room. The children stayed in the music room for three weeks with no chairs and tables. I am astonished when people wonder why the children in this school are not achieving at the expected level.
When Rogers returned as a teacher, she was assigned to the “snake room,” which is now snake-free.